A lignite stockpile (above) and a lignite briquette

Braunkohle als Hausbrand

Lignite, often referred to as brown coal,[1] is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content. It has a carbon content around 60–70 percent.[1] It is mined all around the world, is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation, and is the coal which is most harmful to health.[2]


Lignite mining in Western North Dakota
Lignite mining, western North Dakota, US (c. 1945)

Lignite is brownish-black in color and has a carbon content around 60–70 percent, a high inherent moisture content sometimes as high as 75 percent,[1] and an ash content ranging from 6–19 percent compared with 6–12 percent for bituminous coal.[3]

Garzweiler surface mine, October 2018, -01
Strip mining lignite at Tagebau Garzweiler in Germany

The energy content of lignite ranges from 10 to 20 MJ/kg (9–17 million BTU per short ton) on a moist, mineral-matter-free basis. The energy content of lignite consumed in the United States averages 15 MJ/kg (13 million BTU/ton), on the as-received basis (i.e., containing both inherent moisture and mineral matter). The energy content of lignite consumed in Victoria, Australia, averages 8.4 MJ/kg (7.3 million BTU/ton).

Lignite has a high content of volatile matter which makes it easier to convert into gas and liquid petroleum products than higher-ranking coals. Unfortunately, its high moisture content and susceptibility to spontaneous combustion can cause problems in transportation and storage. It is now known that efficient processes which remove latent moisture locked within the structure of brown coal will relegate the risk of spontaneous combustion to the same level as black coal, transform the calorific value of brown coal to a black coal equivalent fuel, and significantly reduce the emissions profile of 'densified' brown coal to a level similar to or better than most black coals.[4] However, removing the moisture increases the cost of the final lignite fuel.


Lom ČSA Most Czech Republic 2016 7
Layer of lignite for mining in Lom ČSA, Czech Republic

Because of its low energy density and typically high moisture content, brown coal is inefficient to transport and is not traded extensively on the world market compared with higher coal grades. It is often burned in power stations near the mines, such as in Australia's Latrobe Valley and Luminant's Monticello plant in Texas. Primarily because of latent high moisture content and low energy density of brown coal, carbon dioxide emissions from traditional brown-coal-fired plants are generally much higher per megawatt generated than for comparable black-coal plants, with the world's highest-emitting plant being Hazelwood Power Station[5] until its closure in March 2017.[6] The operation of traditional brown-coal plants, particularly in combination with strip mining, can be politically contentious due to environmental concerns.[7][8]

In 2014, about 12 percent of Germany's energy and, specifically, 27 percent of Germany's electricity came from lignite power plants,[9] while in 2014 in Greece, lignite provided about 50 percent of its power needs.

An environmentally beneficial use of lignite can be found in its use in cultivation and distribution of biological control microbes that suppress plant disease causing microbes. The carbon enriches the organic matter in the soil while the biological control microbes provide an alternative to chemical pesticides.[10]

Reaction with quaternary amine forms a product called amine-treated lignite (ATL), which is used in drilling mud to reduce fluid loss during drilling.


Pendeloque en lignite Marsoulas MHNT.PRE.2012.0.6.95
Pendant in lignite (jet) from the Magdalenian culture

Lignite begins as an accumulation of partially decayed plant material, or peat. Burial by other sediments results in increasing temperature, depending on the local geothermal gradient and tectonic setting, and increasing pressure. This causes compaction of the material and loss of some of the water and volatile matter (primarily methane and carbon dioxide). This process, called coalification, concentrates the carbon content, and thus the heat content, of the material. Deeper burial and the passage of time result in further expulsion of moisture and volatile matter, eventually transforming the material into higher-rank coals such as bituminous and anthracite coal.[11]

Lignite deposits are typically younger than higher-ranked coals, with the majority of them having formed during the Tertiary period.


Germany has the biggest deposits,[12] followed by China, Russia and United States.[13]


The Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Australia, contains estimated reserves of some 65 billion tonnes of brown coal.[14] The deposit is equivalent to 25 percent of known world reserves. The coal seams are up to 100 metres thick, with multiple coal seams often giving virtually continuous brown coal thickness of up to 230 metres. Seams are covered by very little overburden (10 to 20 metres).[14]


Lignite can be separated into two types. The first is xyloid lignite or fossil wood and the second form is the compact lignite or perfect lignite.

Although xyloid lignite may sometimes have the tenacity and the appearance of ordinary wood, it can be seen that the combustible woody tissue has experienced a great modification. It is reducible to a fine powder by trituration, and if submitted to the action of a weak solution of potash, it yields a considerable quantity of humic acid.[15] Leonardite is an oxidized form of lignite, which also contains high levels of humic acid.[16]

Jet is a hardened, gem-like form of lignite used in various types of jewelry.


Lignite mined in millions of metric tonnes
Country or territory 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
 East Germany 261 258.1 280 [a] [a] [a] [a] [a] [a] [a]
 Germany 108[b] 129.9[b] 107.6[b] 167.7 169 176.5 185.4 183 178.2 178.1
 China 24.3 45.5 47.7 125.3 136.3 145 147 145 140
 Russia 145[c] 141[c] 137.3[c] 87.8 76.1 76.4 77.9 73 70 73.2
 Kazakhstan [d] [d] [d] 2.6 7.3 8.4 5.5 6.5 6.6
 Uzbekistan [d] [d] [d] 2.5 3.4 3.8 3.8
 United States 5 42.8 79.9 77.6 71.0 73.6 71.6 70.1 72.1 64.7
 Poland 36.9 67.6 59.5 56.5 62.8 64.3 66 63.9 63.1
 Turkey 14.5 44.4 60.9 70.0 72.5 68.1 57.5 62.6 50.4
 Australia 32.9 46 67.3 68.8 66.7 69.1 59.9 58.0 63.0
 Greece 23.2 51.9 63.9 56.5 58.7 61.8 54 48 46
 India 5 14.1 24.2 37.7 42.3 43.5 45 47.2 43.9
 Indonesia 40.0 51.3 60.0 65.0 60.0 60.0
 Czechoslovakia 82 87 71 [e] [e] [e] [e] [e] [e] [e]
 Czech Republic [f] [f] [f] 50.1 43.8 46.6 43.5 40 38.3 38.3
 Slovakia [f] [f] [f] 3.7 2.4 2.4 2.3
 Yugoslavia 33.7 64.1 [g] [g] [g] [g] [g] [g] [g]
 Serbia [h] [h] [h] 35.5[i] 37.8 40.6 38 40.1 29.7 37.3
 Kosovo [h] [h] [h] [j] 8.7[k] 9[k] 8.7[k] 8.2[k] 7.2[k] 8.2[k]
 North Macedonia [h] [h] [h] 7.5 6.7 8.2 7.5
 Bosnia and Herzegovina [h] [h] [h] 3.4 11 7.1 7 6.2 6.2 6.5
 Slovenia [h] [h] [h] 3.7 4 4.1 4
 Montenegro [h] [h] [h] [j] 1.9 2 2
 Romania 26.5 33.7 29 31.1 35.5 34.1 24.7 23.6 25.2
 Bulgaria 30 31.5 26.3 29.4 37.1 32.5 26.5 31.3 35.9
 Albania 1.4 2.1 30 14 9 20
 Thailand 1.5 12.4 17.8 18.3 21.3 18.3 18.1 18 15.2
 Mongolia 4.4 6.6 5.1 8.5 8.3 9.9
 Canada 6 9.4 11.2 10.3 9.7 9.5 9.0 8.5 10.5
 Hungary 22.6 17.3 14 9.1 9.6 9.3 9.6 9.6 9.3
 North Korea 10 10.6 7.2 6.7 6.8 6.8 7 7 7
Source: World Coal Association[17] · U.S. Energy Information Administration[18] · BGR Energiestudie 2016[19] · 1970 data from World Coal (1987)[20]

no data available

  1. ^ a b c d e f g East Germany became a part of Germany as a result of German reunification in 1990.
  2. ^ a b c Data prior to 2000 are for West Germany only.
  3. ^ a b c Data prior to 2000 represent the Soviet Union.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Country was a part of the Soviet Union during this time.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1993.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Country was a part of Czechoslovakia during this time.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Yugoslavia broke up in a process that concluded in 1992.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Country was a part of Yugoslavia during this time.
  9. ^ 2000 data is for Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  10. ^ a b Country was a part of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during this time.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Albanians unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, but the country it is not member of UN and its status is heavily disputed.


See also


  1. ^ a b c Kopp, Otto C. "Lignite" in Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ "Lignite coal - health effects and recommendations from the health sector" (PDF). Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). December 2018.
  3. ^ Ghassemi, Abbas (2001). Handbook of Pollution Control and Waste Minimization. CRC Press. p. 434. ISBN 0-8247-0581-5.
  4. ^ George, A.M.. State Electricity Victoria, Petrographic Report No 17. 1975; Perry, G.J and Allardice, D.J. Coal Resources Conference, NZ 1987 Proc.1, Sec. 4.. Paper R4.1
  5. ^ "Hazelwood tops international list of dirty power stations". World Wide Fund for Nature Australia. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  6. ^ "End of generation at Hazelwood". Engie. Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  7. ^ "The Greens Won't Line Up For Dirty Brown Coal In The Valley". Australian Greens Victoria. 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
  8. ^ "Greenpeace Germany Protests Brown Coal Power Stations". Environment News Service. 2004-05-28. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
  9. ^ "Statistics on energy production in Germany 2014, Department of Energy (in german, lignite = "Braunkohle")" (PDF). 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  10. ^ Jones, Richard; Petit, R; Taber, R (1984). "Lignite and stillage:carrier and substrate for application of fungal biocontrol agents to soil". Phytopathology. 74: 1167–1170. doi:10.1094/Phyto-74-1167.
  11. ^ Blatt, H., Middleton, G. and Murray, R. (1972). Origin of Sedimentary Rocks. Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey. ISBN 0-13-642702-2.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Deutschland ‒Rohstoffsituation 2015" (PDF). Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (in German). 1 November 2016. Archived from the original (pdf) on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  13. ^ Appunn, Kerstine (7 August 2018). "Germany's three lignite mining regions". The Clean Energy Wire. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2019. Germany has been the largest lignite producer in the world since the beginning of industrial lignite mining. It still is, followed by China, Russia, and the United States. The softer and moister lignite (also called brown or soft coal) has a lower calorific value than hard coal and can only be mined in opencast operations. When burned, it is more CO2 intensive than hard coal.
  14. ^ a b Department of Primary Industries, Victorian Government, Australia, ‘Victoria Australia: A Principle Brown Coal Province’ (Fact Sheet, Department of Primary Industries, July 2010).
  15. ^ Mackie, Samuel Joseph (1861). The Geologist. Original from Harvard University: Reynolds. pp. 197–200.
  16. ^ Tan, K.H. 2003. Humic matter in soil and the environment: principles and controversies, CRC Press, 408 pp.
  17. ^ "Resources". World Coal Association. 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  18. ^ "Production of Lignite Coal". U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Gordon, Richard (1987). World coal: economics, policies and prospects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 0521308275. OCLC 506249066.

External links

Anina Mine

Anina Coal Mine is an underground mine that is now closed. It was one of the largest mines in Romania. It is located in South-Western Romania, in Anina, Caraş-Severin County in the historical Banat region. The mine still has large reserves of anthracite, lignite, brown coal and oil shale amounting to over 1.3 billion tonnes. It was owned by Miniera Banat a state owned company that specialised in the management of coal mines in the Banat region. The mine opened in 1790 making it the longest running mine in Romania until its closure in 2006. Its galleries are hundreds of kilometers in length and reach a depth of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) making it the deepest mine in Romania and one of the deepest in Europe. The mine supplied oil shale to the nearby Crivina Power Station, a 990 MW thermal power station, the first oil shale power station in Romania, that had to be supplied with around 4 million tonnes of oil shale per year.The Anina mine was the site of many fatal accidents during its history, which claimed over 1,000 lives from its opening in 1790 to its closure in 2006.

Berbești Coal Mine

Berbești Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, one of the largest in Romania located in Berbești, Vâlcea County. The legal entity managing the Berbești mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has four open pits Seciuri, Olteț, Berbești-Vest, Panga that produced 2.5 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 1,800 workers and is endowed with 13 bucket-wheel excavators, seven spreaders, one mixed machine and five deposits spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 67 million tonnes of lignite.

Chettinad Group

Chettinad Group is an Indian business conglomerate headquartered in Chennai. It was founded as the Annaamalai Chettiar Group by Annamalai Chettiar.

Chettinad Cement Corporation Limited

Chettinad Power Corporation Private Limited

Chettinad Quartz Products Private Limited

Chettinad MB-F Hi Silica Limited

Chettinad Logistics Private Limited

Chettinad International Coal Terminal Private Limited

Chettinad Lignite Transport Services Private Limited

Chettinad Plantations Private Limited

South India Corporation Limited

Chettinad College of Engineering and Technology

chettinad University

Chettinad Medical College and Hospital

Chettinad Dental College and Research Institute

Chettinad super speciality hospital

Chettinad hospital and research institute hospital

Fuel extraction in Pakistan

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), Pakistan may have over 9 billion barrels (1.4×109 cubic metres) of petroleum oil and 105 trillion cubic feet (3.0 trillion cubic metres) in natural gas (including shale gas) reserves.As per BP' Statistical Review of World Energy 2016, at the end of 2015 Pakistan had the following proved reserves of fuels: 0.5 Trillion cu m of natural gas and 2.07 Billion tons of coal (sub-bituminous and lignite).

Garzweiler surface mine

The Tagebau Garzweiler is a surface mine (German: Tagebau) in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia. It is operated by RWE and used for mining lignite. The mine currently has a size of 48 km² and got its name from the village of Garzweiler which previously existed at this location. The community was moved to a section of Jüchen with the same name.

Hambach surface mine

The Tagebau Hambach is a large open-pit coal mine (German: Tagebau) in Niederzier and Elsdorf, North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany. It is operated by RWE and used for mining lignite.

The mine is on the site of the ancient Hambach Forest which was purchased by RWE in 1978. They then cut most of it down and cleared it to mine. Only 10% of the forest area remains. RWE plans to clear half of the remaining area of the forest between around 2018 and 2020; this plan was met with massive protests in autumn 2018, and was temporarily stopped in October 2018 by the supreme administrative court of North Rhine–Westphalia (Oberverwaltungsgericht für das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen).Begun in 1978, the mine's operation area currently (as of end of 2017) has a size of 43,8 km², with the total area designated for mining having a size of 85 km². It is the deepest open pit mine with respect to sea level: the bottom of the pit with up to 500 metres (1,640 ft) from the surface is 299 metres (981 ft) below sea level, the deepest artificially made point in North Rhine–Westphalia.

Husnicioara Coal Mine

Husnicioara Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, one of the largest in Romania located in Husnicioara, Mehedinţi County. The legal entity managing the Husnicioara mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has two open pits Husnicioara - Vest, Zegujani that produced 3.1 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 700 workers and is endowed with five bucket-wheel excavators, three spreaders, one mixed machine and four deposits spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 67 million tonnes of lignite.

Jet (lignite)

Jet is a type of lignite, a precursor to coal, and is a gemstone. Jet is not a mineral, but rather a mineraloid. It has an organic origin, being derived from wood that has decayed under extreme pressure.

The English noun "jet" derives from the French word for the same material, jaiet (modern French jais), ultimately referring to the ancient town of Gagae. Jet is either black or dark brown, but may contain pyrite inclusions, which are of brassy colour and metallic lustre. The adjective "jet-black", meaning as dark a black as possible, derives from this material.

Jilț Coal Mine

Jilț Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, one of the largest in Romania located in Mătăsari, Gorj County. The legal entity managing the Jilț mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has two open pits Jilț Sud, Jilț Nord that produced 7 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 2,400 workers and is endowed with 15 bucket-wheel excavators, seven spreaders, two mixed machines and one deposit spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 285.8 million tonnes of lignite.

Lignite, California

Lignite is a former settlement in Amador County, California. It was 0.5 miles (0.8 km) southeast of Carbondale on the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Lignite, Virginia

Lignite is a ghost town in Botetourt County, Virginia, United States. A former iron ore mining town owned by Allegheny Ore and Iron Company (which later became the Lukens Steel Co. of Coatesville, PA), it contained a company store, churches, school, post office, and a main street theater. It was abandoned by the company in the 1920s after ore demands dropped, when higher grade iron ore was discovered in the Great Lakes area, but some people continued to live in the houses until the 1950s. It has very few remains and is now a part of the Jefferson National Forest.

List of least carbon efficient power stations

This is a list of least carbon efficient power stations in selected countries. Lists were created by the WWF and lists the most polluting power stations in terms of the level of carbon dioxide produced per unit of electricity generated. In 2005 WWF created list of power stations from 30 industrialised countries, also list for EU, in 2007 WWF published updated EU list. In 2009 European Commission list with absolute emissions only, also in 2014 Climate Action Network Europe, WWF, European Environmental Bureau, Health and Environment Alliance and Climate Alliance Germany.

List of power stations in the Czech Republic

The following page lists major power stations in the Czech Republic. As of 31 December 2009, power stations in Czech Republic have an installed electrical generating capacity of 18,326 MWe; of these 3,830 MWe in nuclear plants, 11,655 MWe in other thermal plants, 2,183 MWe in hydro plants, 193 MWe in wind power plants and 465 MWe in solar plants. Because of generous feed-in tariff solar plants boomed in 2010, reaching 1,394 MWe as of December 1, 2010.

Ministry of Coal

The Ministry of Coal is an Indian government ministry headquartered in New Delhi. The portfolio is held by Cabinet Minister Pralhad Joshi

The Ministry of Coal is charged with exploration of coal and lignite reserves in India, production, supply, distribution and price of coal through the government-owned corporations Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries, as well as Neyveli Lignite Corporation.The Ministry of Coal also manages the Union Government's 49 percent equity participation in Singareni Collieries Company, a public sector undertaking that is a joint venture with Government of Telangana. in which equity is held partly by the government of Telangana state (51%) and the government of India.


Montebamboli is a hamlet and località in the comune of Massa Marittima, Tuscany, Italy. The settlement was first mentioned in a parchment from the year 754, and it is located in the hills of what is now the centre of Massa Marittima, within the Parco interprovinciale di Montioni. The hamlet is one of the few still preserved in its original state in the area, containing about twenty farms and a complex centred on the historic Petrocchi farm dating to the early 19th century, which still has its old wine cellar and olive press. There is a church dedicated to St. Francis and St. Louis, dating to the late 18th century.

On a hill near the village are the ruins of Tricase Castle, consisting of the perimeter wall and some interior walls. In addition to the cited document dated 754, the castle is mentioned in a document dating from 1316, which lists it as a property of the Sienese noble family of Sergardi.Montebamboli is also known for its high-quality lignite coal, located along the river Riotorto. Lignite was mined in the area by various companies between the discovery of deposits in 1839 and 1921. The extracted lignite was transported to the sea at a place near Torre Mozza (today the village of La Carbonifera), by a dedicated 22 km (14 mi) railway completed in 1849.A number of fossil species have been discovered in the lignite beds around Montebamboli, including the first fossils of the hominid species Oreopithecus bambolii, and the unusual waterfowl species Bambolinetta lignitifila, both of these species named after the settlement.

Motru Coal Mine

Motru Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, one of the largest in Romania located in Motru, Gorj County. The legal entity managing the Motru mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has two open pits Lupoaia, Roșiuța that produced 6.6 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 2,300 workers and is endowed with 13 bucket-wheel excavators, seven spreaders, two mixed machines and two deposits spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 108 million tonnes of lignite.

NLC India Limited

NLC India Limited (formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited) (NLC) is a 'Navratna' government of India company in the fossil fuel mining sector in India and thermal power generation. It annually produces about 30 million tonne lignite from opencast mines at Neyveli in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India and at Barsingsar in Bikaner district of Rajasthan state. The lignite is used at pithead thermal power stations of 3240 MW installed capacity to produce electricity. Its joint venture has a 1000 MW thermal power station using coal. Lately it has diversified into renewable energy production and installed 141 MW solar power plant to produce electricity from photovoltaic (PV) cells and 51 MW electricity from windmills.

It was incorporated in 1956 and was wholly owned by the government of India. A small portion of its stock was sold to the public to list its shares on stock exchanges where its shares are traded. It is under the administrative control of Ministry of Coal.

Rovinari Coal Mine

Rovinari Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, the largest in Romania, located in Rovinari, Gorj County. The legal entity managing the Rovinari mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has four open pits Tismana I, Tismana II, Gârla - Rovinari Est and Pinoasa that produced 8 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 3,000 workers and is endowed with 23 bucket-wheel excavators, 14 spreaders, three mixed machines and one deposits spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 610 million tonnes of lignite.

Roșia – Peșteana Coal Mine

Roșia – Peșteana Coal Mine is an open-pit mining exploitation, one of the largest in Romania located in Rovinari, Gorj County. The legal entity managing the Roșia - Peșteana mine is the National Company of Lignite Oltenia which was set up in 1997.The exploitation has three open pits Roșia, Peșteana Nord, Peșteana Sud-Urdar that produced 7.2 million tonnes of lignite in 2008. The mine has around 2,900 workers and is endowed with 19 bucket-wheel excavators, 12 spreaders, one mixed machine and three deposits spreader. The total proven recoverable reserves of the mine amount to 112 million tonnes of lignite.

Coal types by grade
(lowest to highest)
Coal combustion
Coal mining


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